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Author: William Wians

Abstract

Many scholars have found Aristotle’s explanation of parental resemblance in De Generatione Animalium to be inconsistent with the hylomorphic theory of sexual differentiation developed in GA I. The later passage claims that the female imparts motions of her own through the material she contributes, while the earlier account seems to assign all form-imparting motions to the father, limiting the female’s contribution to passive, inert matter. I shall argue that the alleged inconsistency should instead be understood as reflecting the GA’s overall plan of exposition, which makes IV 3 the final refinement of definitions of male and female advanced provisionally in Book I. I propose to locate GA IV 3 within two larger contexts of a carefully constructed exposition. Most immediately, IV 3 belongs to the sequence of argument beginning at the start of book IV dealing with sexual differentiation. But the issues in IV reach back to the very beginning of the GA and the definition of male and female as stated there (which raises but postpones the question of parental resemblance). Scholars who regard Aristotle’s account as inconsistent—and even many who don’t—have failed to appreciate the progressive unfolding of an Aristotelian exposition.

In: Reading Aristotle
Author: William Wians

Abstract

I shall argue that, according to Aristotle, the knowledge we may attain is profoundly qualified by our status as human knowers. Throughout the corpus, Aristotle maintains a separation of knowledge at the broadest level into two kinds, human and divine. The separation is not complete—human knowers may enjoy temporarily what god or the gods enjoy on a continuous basis; but the division expresses a fact about humanity's place in the cosmos, one that imposes strict conditions on what we may know, with what degree of certainty, and in what areas. While passages bearing on human knowledge are familiar, looking at them collectively and in comparison with certain other well known Aristotelian doctrines may significantly affect how we understand the goals of his philosophy and why our hopes for reaching them must be limited.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
This volume, the twenty-eighth year of published proceedings, contains seven papers and commentaries presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during academic year 2011-12. The paper topics include: stages of early Greek cosmology, the decline of political virtue in Republic 8-9, two dogmas of Platonism, Meno's paradox and Sisyphus, puzzles and perplexity in Plato's dialogues, Nous and its objects in Aristotle, and Plotinus' Socratic intellectualism.
This volume, the thirtieth year of published proceedings, contains five papers and commentaries presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during academic year 2013-14. The paper topics include: pleasure in the Philebus under the rubric of the fourfold structure of reality; the tension between the good of the city and the good of the citizens in the Republic; the relation of self-knowledge to dialectic in Theaetetus and Alcibiades I; a close examination of the interplay of the characters in the Sophist to counter Plato’s replacement of Socrates by the Eleatic Stranger; and three autobiographical passages in different dialogues to establish philosophical practice as intellectual and emotional together.
This volume, the thirtieth year of published proceedings, contains five papers and commentaries presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during academic year 2013-14. The paper topics include: pleasure in the Philebus under the rubric of the fourfold structure of reality; the tension between the good of the city and the good of the citizens in the Republic; the relation of self-knowledge to dialectic in Theaetetus and Alcibiades I; a close examination of the interplay of the characters in the Sophist to counter Plato’s replacement of Socrates by the Eleatic Stranger; and three autobiographical passages in different dialogues to establish philosophical practice as intellectual and emotional together.
This volume, the twenty-seventh year of published proceedings, contains seven papers and commentaries presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during academic year 2010-11. The paper topics include: number in Philolaus, the injustice of philosophers in Republic VII, Socrates' and Plato's political art in the Gorgias, Aristotle's distinction between two types of knowledge in the Ethics, medical analogies and aporias in Aristotle's account of natural science, place in Aristotle's Physics, and Plotinus' use of light for image and analogy.
This volume, the twenty-ninth year of published proceedings, contains six papers and commentaries presented to the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy during academic year 2012-13. The paper topics include: Glaucon's fate in the Republic, divine creation and human responsibility in the Timaeus, Aristotle on orexis in generation, on the biological use of analogy and finally on dialectic as proto-phenomenological, and lastly, Proclus on likeness and unlikeness as ontological first principles.